“Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Tree”

Neverland by Hannes Flo, (FCC)

“My life is a crystal teardrop. There are snowflakes falling in the teardrop and little figures trudging around in slow motion. If I were to look into the teardrop for the next million years, I might never find out who the people are, and what they are doing.” ~ Joan Baez, as found in Joan Didion’s “Where the Kissing Never Stops”

Friday afternoon, snow and rain, cold, 39 degrees.

During the night when I was letting the dogs out, I looked out to see snow covering the ground, which was a surprise. The weather forecast did not call for snow, only more rain. Corey and I agree that the weather here is actually quite depressing. I can only hope that as the weather gets warmer that we are finally able to dry out around here. The mud is overwhelming, as is the near constant rain.

So we lost internet Wednesday night, right as I was watching that new documentary on HBO about Michael Jackson, Finding Neverland. It’s actually quite disturbing as it features two men who were childhood victims of abuse at Jackson’s hands. Truthfully, I’m surprised that they were able to make it. I know that Jackson’s estate sues people all of the time. Nevertheless, it’s more than time that these victims were able to tell their stories.

Anyway, I can’t believe the nerve of some companies, wanting to be paid for their services as opposed to offering them for free. I remember reading something sometime ago about how Tesla wanted electricity to be free, and someone who wanted the internet to be free. Such radical ideas: actually giving the public something that they can use as opposed to making a profit.

Hmm……..Things that make you go hmm……

“I hear two sibilants—here silk,
the snowstorm outside. Beating soul
and breathing blood. We both got what
we wanted” ~ Marina Tsvetaeva, from “Playacting” (Trans. Christopher Whyte)

I decided to be proactive for a change, and rather than wait for the internet to become available again, I decided to go ahead and write some posts on Microsoft Word until we can get it restored on Monday. Then I’ll just post and backdate, which I know is cheating, but hey, when you’re me, and you never know what day it is, does it really matter?

So no podcasts for me for a bit, so I’ve been listening to some of my old music playlists. I made the mistake of putting on an old country playlist while I was taking a bath, and boy, some of those songs are just heartbreaking. For example, there was Blaine Larsen’s, “How Do You Get so Lonely,” which is about a boy who commits suicide, and then there was “Alyssa Lies,” which is about child abuse.

Boy, I know how to put together a playlist that makes you want to cut your wrists with a rusty razor blade—that was a Kathleen saying, or maybe it was a Gail saying. Can’t remember. But those two women were big friends of mine once upon a time.

“I’m tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I’m hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does..” ~ James Salter, from a letter to Robert Phelps (July 6, 1969-70)

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to another long-time friend of mine, the woman who taught me piano for almost eight years. I always looked up to her, and when she got melanoma years ago, I was so afraid that she would succumb to it, but fortunately, she didn’t, and she went on to have a son by a man who later betrayed her big time.

She was such a classy, talented woman, and oddly enough, she’s the one who made me love Bach, who I had always eschewed before she started teaching me. I was intimidated by Bach—too many notes on the page, as it were, but I learned to master his Two-Part Inventions, and went on to the Three-Part Inventions before I stopped.

I really miss playing, but my piano is in terrible shape. I hope that one day I can find a decent used piano to purchase. Corey’s parents had a beautiful piano in their basement that I always coveted, but then his brother threw out the keys that had come loose, and they got rid of the piano. I miss learning new pieces. I mean, I could teach myself, but there is something special about learning from someone who really knows music. God I loved to play the piano, and I was relatively good at it. I wasn’t one of those naturals who can sit down at a keyboard and just play what they hear in their brains, nor could I ever master changing keys on my own.

I went to school with a couple of people like that, incredibly talented both of them. The one who played the cello died of AIDS during the height of the epidemic, and the other, who played any instrument she touched, ended up having a major tragedy in her life that she never recovered from.

“My wound existed before me;
I was born to embody it.” ~ Joë Bousquet, from “Traduit du silence”

Which just proves that no one is immune from life’s travails, regardless of talent, and here I am still, even when I never imagined being this old, never thought that I would make it this far, and I still feel mediocre every single day of my life. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching for months now, trying to figure out why I can’t be happy. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer, and my inability to find one just makes me madder and madder at myself.

Granted, the last few years have been majorly stressful, and that I even made it out in sort of one piece still amazes me. I remember years ago, after I lost Caitlin, and I went to that first psychiatrist (who I loathed), and he told me that losing a child is ranked as the second or third biggest stressor in life, with being in a concentration camp ranking as first. How did people even survive that when they were finally liberated? How did they not hate everyone and everything?

Anyway, I had a point, which was that other life stressors include moving, starting a new job, and getting married. I got married (the first time), moved to Blacksburg, and started graduate school and teaching composition all within two weeks of each other.
I supposed I’ve never been one to do things half way. It’s all or nothing. Or maybe, it’s everything or nothing. Who knows.

“All I can hear now is the sound of my own heart, opening and closing, opening and closing, opening.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Handmaid’s Tale

But getting back to the idea of being happy: I know that only I can control my happiness. I’m not naïve enough to think that someone else can make me happy. No matter how much Corey loves and cares for me, he cannot control what is inside of me, nor does he try to.

There is such a feeling of deep regret within me, regret, and guilt, and a sense of being incredibly ungrateful.

Let me explain: I have wanted to live in the mountains, on my own property, for as long as I can remember, ever since the first time I drove into Blacksburg to visit Paul. I knew in that instant that my soul belonged in the mountains. So here I am, surrounded by everything I ever wanted, land, an incredible vista, animals, yet somehow, it’s not enough.

No. Let me back that up. It’s not that it’s not enough; it’s that there is such a large hole in my heart that I’m having a hard time allowing myself to be filled with the splendor with which I am surrounded. Aside from the mud, this place is everything. But I don’t have my kids, and I no longer have a home in Norfolk. I wasn’t able to keep my parents’ home in the family, and I know that many people are not able to do this, but I feel like such a failure because of that, and because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to have it someday. And more than that, I want my kids.

It’s coloring everything, and I hate it more than I can say, so maybe I should stop trying to say anything more at the moment.

More later. Peace.


Music by Ruelle, “Slip Away”

 


Rebus

You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.

Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.

This rebus—slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life—
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.

The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.

How can I enter this question the clay has asked?

~ Jane Hirshfield (found on Poetry Foundation)
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“A doodle. I do doodle. You too. You do doodle, too.” ~ Willow, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Spike

Buffy and Spike (Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters)

 

“And then I was being chased by an improperly filled in answer bubble screaming ‘None of the above.'” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Today I took on another project: I cleaned my desk.

Buffy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Now I know that many of you would not consider such a thing a project, per se, more of a task. Let me explain: I have always had a propensity for cluttered desks, and now that I am working on a desk that is about one third the size of my last desk, it is very easy for me to amass a mess in very little time.

But since I need to take care of some forms and make some telephone calls, the only way that I could do that efficiently was to find the forms that I needed. Unfortunately, by the time I tried to make some calls, it was already 4:50, and very few people want to talk to people at the end of the day. At least, I know that’s how I felt when the end of the day rolled around and the telephone rang. I would look at the caller ID and decide if it was a call I really had to answer or if I could let it go to voice mail.

So, one telephone call later, I went back to the actual physical desk which needed to be dusted. I mean reallydusted.  Finished that without giving myself an asthma attack, oh happy day for small things. The only thing left is to finish putting a pile of night-clothes back in the top of the closet; they were unceremoniously dumped out of the closet in order for me to gain access to the left side of the closet.

After that, if I’m still standing, I need to do some laundry. I’m exhausted just writing about it.

“I’ll see your numbness and I’ll raise you a lower back pain.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Xander
Xander (Nicholas Brendan)

Poor Corey is sick today. I think that he might have a stomach bug of some kind. He has spent the better part of the day in bed. Of course the dogs like it. I really didn’t realize that he felt as bad as he does until he came in and looked longingly at the bed, upon which was strewn my papers and notes from my desk. I finished quickly so that he could crawl back inside.

Corey doesn’t get sick very often, so when he does, it’s a really terrible, awful thing. I’m not mocking. He’s just beside himself when he doesn’t feel well, as if his body is directly offending him in some way. It’s cute, in a silly way.

The dogs have been enjoying his rest, of course. Shakes is cuddled up next to him, and Alfie is on his pillow above his head. Earlier, when I had the bed covered with papers, Alfie came in and gave me a dirty look. He then proceeded to jump on the bed and walk through the papers. My dogs are quite obnoxious at times. I have to remind them that the bed does not actually belong to them.

“Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.” ~ Angel from Angel

Angel
Angel (David Boreanaz)

Have my recently updated “Music to Work By” playlist running in the background. Just had to pause to identify a song. It was Joan Baez, “Diamonds and Rust.” Don’t know what possessed me to download that, but I remember when I was younger, it was one of the songs that I would sing full out when I was depressed, which was quite often. I’m sure that my neighbors were not amused, but they never complained. Thankfully.

I also downloaded a few Jackson Browne songs, and Janis Ian’s “Seventeen.” I suppose I was in a terribly nostalgic mood yesterday when I did all of the downloading and updating.

Yes, I know that I can be quite anal about somethings, and my music is one of those things. When I have my CDs on a shelf (not in storage), they are arranged alphabetically by genre: classical, jazz, etc. My music library on my computer is also very well organized: I have made sure that each song has been categorized, and that the name of the album is included (that is, whenever I can remember the name).

Anyway, I have four basic playlists: working music, sleeping music, country music (yes, I like country music, not the old style, though, more the crossover stuff), and a “This and That” category that has a little of everything in it.

“Haven’t you figured it all out yet, with your enormous squishy frontal lobes?”  ~ Spike,  Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Alexis came by earlier on her way home. She delivered some homemade Lumpia, which is the name of small Filipino eggrolls. I love good Lumpia. Don’t really like regular eggrolls.

Lumpia can be strictly vegetarian, or it can contain meat, depending upon what the cook wants to do. Alexis and Mike make good Lumpia. She has begun to teach herself how to cook Filipino dishes, which really impresses me since I haven’t taught myself anything new in the kitchen in ages and ages. I am trying to convince Corey to learn how to cook Adobo, which is usually made with chicken or pork and has a delicious sauce.

He’s thinking about it, he says . . .

“That’s not Proactive Guy. That’s Sit-Around-And-Wait-For-The-Rest-of-His-Life-To-Turn-To-Crap Guy.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Another interesting thing has happened. Brett decided to join the Improv Club at school. To say that I am happy about this move is an understatement. It was completely his idea (even better), and it means that he is actually willing and able to do an extracurricular activity this year. Such a change from last year.

Monday is parent/teacher conference at his school. Corey and I will be going, of course, and I’m hoping that I will be hearing better things than last year.

Brett’s new schedule of having four classes every other day seems to really be making a difference as far as his stress level is concerned. He has the one day off to do assignments and to just chill. Of course, it’s only October, but I’m keeping a good thought that he’ll make it through his senior year without too many problems.

“Wait. Handbook? What handbook? How come I don’t have a handbook?” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow
Willow (Alyson Hannigan)

Tomorrow I must make the telephone calls that I didn’t get to today. I also have an appointment with my regular doctor to make up for the one that I couldn’t go to last Friday. She is probably going to chastise me because my thyroid levels were off when I had my blood work done. My levels were off because I have run out of thyroid medicine, and I am still at an impasse with my prescription coverage.

I am trying not to pin too many hopes on the government’s idea of healthcare reform, but I swear I just don’t understand what the big deal is. How many countries around the world have government-sponsored healthcare? And these aren’t all wealthy, developed nations. I mean, if Thailand could institute universal healthcare in 2001, why can’t the United States.

Universal healthcare is not going to take us on that road to communism. Please, give me a break. What it will do is make sure that our infant mortality rate goes down, that our seniors get the medicine that they often cannot afford and that people like me who are disabled are able to afford our health insurance premiums.

I’m not asking the government to pay for everything, and I don’t believe that the majority of Americans are asking for that either. We just want options. We want not to be denied automatically for pre-existing conditions over which we have not control. For example, people who have had asthma since childhood, and that asthma has nothing to do with cigarette smoking.

Or consider the individuals who have had suffered bad side effects from a medication that has led to other health problems. How is it fair to deny coverage in such a case, especially since if the pharmaceutical companies had better oversight, then we wouldn’t keep letting medications onto the market that cause problems later. For example, the latest one that I know of is the medication Reglan, which, apparently has caused numerous problems. Well guess what? At one time, I took Reglan. Not for long, and it was years ago. But Reglan is just the latest in a long line of medications that infiltrate the market only to be recalled a decade or less later.

But the individuals who have health problems as a result of taking these medications can be denied coverage because of that wonderful catch-all classification—a pre-existing condition.

“Been there, done that, and deja vu just isn’t what it used to be.” ~ Angelus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike
My favorite vampire: Spike (James Marsters)

Oops. Slipped onto the soapbox for a moment. But I’m sitting here at home without medication that I really need but cannot afford because it’s a matter of paying my health insurance premiums or pay for other things. Same old story. Really tired of singing this song. Nevertheless, don’t think for a second that I let it slide whenever I hear of another outlandish comment by a Senator or Representative regarding healthcare. I’m sending e-mails, signing petitions, letting it be known that I do want healthcare, and it is an issue for me.

For example, Republican House Leader John Boehner contends that he has never met a single person who supports the public option as part of health care reform. Last week, Boehner said that he was “still trying to find the first American who’s in favor of the public option.”

Hello? Hello? Is anybody in there? 

Here’s an updated version of “Diamonds and Rust.” Yep. It’s Judas Priest.

More later. Peace.

(Just a note: In a Buffy mood. No particular reason. There was some great philosophy on that show, in a silly vampire slayer kind of way.)